It has been a busy first full summer in New Knoxville. Last summer was a whirlwind since we moved here in the middle of July. Before we were even settled into our new house, Alie began another school year and the church was in full swing. As a family, we were looking forward to this summer and a chance to slow down and take a breath.
This summer was a whirlwind, too.
We spent time visiting family in New York. We attended family camp at Beulah Beach and saw old friends from Huntington. We caught up with college friends. There was Vacation Bible School, the CCCC Annual Gathering in Pittsburg, and planning meetings for the Germany Mission Trip in September. Most exciting of all, we learned Alie is pregnant and we expect Baby Boy Bucklin to arrive in January. Overall, it was a great summer, but it seemed like it flew by. Alie begins school this week, and the church year will be in full swing again soon.
I share this for a couple reasons. One, I haven’t updated this blog most of the summer. With all the travel and extra activities, this was one less thing I had to worry about. Now that things are beginning to wind down, I hope to update it regularly.
Second, I was reminded this summer just how much change is a normal part of life. I expected a nice, quiet, relaxing summer, and it was to a certain extent. I feel that I’ve gained a fair amount of stability and familiarity with my role at First Church, but this just leads to more opportunities for growth and God to force me out of my comfort zone. Catching up with old friends and family reminded me of just how much has changed over the last year. Learning Alie is pregnant reminded me, of course, that life is going to change dramatically for us as a family in about five months.
My parents visited New Knoxville a few weekends ago. They brought three large plastic containers full of my old stuff. My mom never threw anything away. I mean nothing. I found old finger paintings from kindergarten, old progress reports, and even some of my writings from elementary school. Mixed in with all the report cards, Boy Scout memorabilia, and athletic trophies was a copy of my first sermon. I remember giving the sermon, of course, but seeing the bulletin and manuscript brought back memories.
A friend and I preached together the weekend we graduated from high school. We delivered it tag-team style. I would preach for a few minutes, and then he would preach for a few. We switched back and forth like that a few times throughout the sermon. Interestingly enough, the topic of the sermon was change. It seemed apt at the time, given we were both about to move three states away from home and attend college. But as I sat there and looked at the sermon twelve-plus years later, I realized that the message was just as relevant today as ever.
An ancient Greek philosopher once said, “The only thing constant in life is change.” A lot has certainly changed in the last twelve years. That seems obvious. But a lot has changed in the last few months as well. We all go through change. It may be positive change, or it could be life-altering change for the worse. Either way, we all experience change and have to learn to deal with it. Just this summer, I have been stretched and challenged to be a better husband, father, pastor, and friend. I pray that God uses these opportunities to help me grow in these areas.
The main point of that sermon still rings true, and is a message that we all still need to hear. Although change is constant, and life may throw you a curveball or two, we can rely on the unchanging truth of God’s Word. As the Israelites stood on the edge of the promise land, God had a message for them. He spoke to the people through Joshua and said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Josh 1:9). That is one of the great promises of scripture, repeated several times throughout the Old Testament. Even as everything else changes, we can hold on to the promise that God will neither leave nor forsake his people.
What changes or challenges are you facing? What obstacles has life put in your way? Take confidence and hold on to the hope of God’s presence in your life. God does not abandon his people. He gives them the strength to endure. He often uses times of change, good or bad, to deepen and strengthen or faith.
Change is constant, but so is God’s Word.